Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exploring Valladolid, Cenote Zaci, Centote Dzitnup and Uyama

Tucked away 1.5 hours away from Playa del Carmen in the interior of the Yucatan, 1/2 way between Playa del Carmen and Merida is the beautiful colonial city of Valladolid.  Draped in beautifully colored facades and assembled with boxed shaped architecture with framed doors, windows and roofs, Valladolid's architecture boldly boasts it's colonial roots in a kaleidoscope of muted pastels.  Meandering around the winding streets one can easily get lost among the interesting shops.

Allan and I, along with friends Jim, Janet, Marilou, and Isa are staying at the Maria de la Luz (http://www.marialuzhotel.com.mx) a no frills, $40 USD/night hotel with pool right on the city center square with decent double beds and unbeatable location.   I walk out the front door and am greeted with the hustle and bustle of city life as it bends around the city square.  At night the Church of San Gervasio with dual spires looms over the rooftops and shines like a beautiful medallion.

Day and night I feast on rich and creamy homemade coconut ice cream with pieces of whole coconut.  It certainly helps to beat the heat and humidity which is noticeably more oppressive than at the coast.  However, the beauty and charm of Valladolid make any temporary discomfort more tolerable.  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast on the city square at the Meson de Marquez with cool interior courtyard with green grass, water fountain, hanging plants and Mexican art on the walls.

The perfect way to really escape the weather is to visit Cenote Zaci which is right off the city square.  A large round bowl shape, the cenote is half covered with a large lofty roof with some stalactites.  The deepest part of the cenote reaches a depth of 300 feet below the surface of the green water.  For adventurous types like me there is a rope swing and many places to jump or dive including a 36 foot / 12 meter platform which I could not get up enough courage to use even though an 8 year old boy jumped off at least 2x right in front of me.  Winding down the edge of the cenote down the stairs to the base, the temperature seems to drop 20 degrees.

We also explored Cenote Dzitnup, roughly a 15 minute drive north west of the city.  Most remarkable were the children on Sunday who ran up to the car eager to "watch" your car for a few pesos.  We were most taken with these kids with their eager faces, strong personalities, quick hands, shifty eyes and cute devilishness features.   We agreed to have them "watch" the vehicle, which they did quite well, but considering how entertaining and enterprising they were to try to squeeze as much money out of us as possible, in the end we probably gave them $300 pesos (roughly $25 USD) which we gladly thought would buy them a few good treats to enjoy their day.

Cenote Dzitnup is an underground cavernous cenote with domed roof, large stalactites and crystal clear water.  Unfortunately on a Sunday it was overly crowded and felt more like a public pool than a pristine oasis.  Although I did jump in briefly to cool off, half our group refrained, while the other eagerly plunged into the cool depths.

On the way home from Valladolid we stopped at the town of Uyama with it's beautiful red, white and blue church.  Once a major stopping point between Merida and Valladolid, Uyama was once a very bustling town.  Now a days it's a very quiet town with nothing more really than a beautiful church built from the stones of the Mayan pyramids.

Even though our weekend away was a short one, it was nice to finally take off two days in a row and relax.  We are looking forward to doing more exploring now that things are slowing down for the summer.

The children of Ditznup sing romantic folk tales. "Tirame la lima, tirame el limon, tirame las llaves de tu lindo corazon..." (Throw me a lime, throw me a lemon, throw me the keys to your pretty heart..."

Allan dances with the children of Ditznup.

Me, Marilou, Allan, Jim, Janet and Isa in Valladolid
Downtown Valladolid with the Colorful Colonial Architecture
Church of San Servacio in the City Center of Valladolid
Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci
Janet, Me, Marilou, Jim and Allan at Cenote Zaci
Waitress at the Meson de Marquez in the Valladolid City Center
Allan and the Children at Cenote Dzitnup

Allan and a girl at Cenote Dzitnup